tv [untitled] July 21, 2011 9:00pm-9:30pm PDT
>> hello. and welcome to "need your district supervisor -- meet your district supervisor." supervisors campos is our supervisor for this week. welcome. thank you for joining us today. tell us about your background. where you grew up, went to school? >> sure. i was born in guatemala. i was brought here by my parents. i grew up in l.a., and then moved up to the bay area, and i
went to stanford. i came back after law school. my background for the first few years was as a practicing attorney. i worked in the private sector for a number of years. and then i worked for the city as a deputy city attorney and then became general counsel of the school district of san francisco and through that became involved in politics and at some point decided to run for office. >> you have lived in san francisco for awhile. why did you decide to live here? supervisor campos: i have always felt that san francisco is unique. i have always loved this city. i think that san francisco is -- it represents the best of what this country has to offer. it is a place that welcomes
people from all over the world, from all over the country, and is a place that not only tolerates, but actually increases diversity. it is a place that is forward thinking in terms of how it looks at issues, and it has always felt like home. as a gay latino man, i felt this was a place where i could be happy. >> why did you get involved? supervisor campos: i think a lot of the past to do with my being an immigrant. i am very grateful for all the opportunities this country has given me. only in this country could someone like me have an opportunity to go from having nothing to go to stanford, harvard law school, and to be an attorney. it really is a way of giving
back. i really believe that when you are blessed with the opportunities that this country gives you, that you have an obligation to give back. i really believe in public service. i could be in the private sector and make a lot of money, but i believe i have a duty to try to make things better for other people and to pay back the country that has given me so much. >> looking back to your campaign for supervisor, what lesson did you walk away with after that experience? did anything surprise you? supervisor campos: the first lesson is how lucky we are to live in san francisco how lucky i am to represent district 9. as you indicated, it includes bernal heights, and it also includes the portola. it is such a rich district. getting to know people of the district through the campaign,
doing the job of a supervisor has been the most rewarding super rigid experience. -- the most rewarding experience. it is amazing how the people are. it has been a great experience. i do not know that i fully understood the richness of this district until i was actually talking to so many people on the campaign trail. now as a supervisor i see it every day. i see that. and there are challenges in these tough economic times. but i also see so much potential, so many amazing people, and we in city government have an opportunity to address so many problems and make so many things better. the campaign was a learning experience on so many levels. beyond that, i think you've
learned something about yourself when you are putting yourself out there through the political process. i was very lucky that i had that opportunity because where i come from something as basic as free, democratic elections, that is a luxury. people participate in the democratic process. that is something that is quite amazing and remarkable. i think that you do not fully appreciate it if you have had it all your life. whereas someone who came from a place where that was not possible, i think that i have a unique appreciation for it. it was really an exciting thing to do. >> where would you place yourself now on the political spectrum? the left, the right? supervisor campos: i think the labels can mean a lot of different things. i see myself as someone who ultimately has tried to make
things better for people. i have a progressive outlook in terms of how i see things. by progressive i mean the sense that we have to make government and the city work for everyone, and that means that not just those who are doing well. it is also those who are not doing so well. it also means making sure the city works for the middle class and to think of innovative ways of addressing issues and to not be afraid to think outside the box. that is what i see as being "progressive," in that sense. ultimately, there is a guiding principle. that is how i approach government. i believe in good government, transparency, accountability. i believe in making sure that we
follow best practices. i think that is something that often times transcends the left, the middle, the right. it goes beyond that. and that is why, you know, as a supervisor i focus so much on contracts and how the city spends money, which is not traditionally a progressive issue. but i believe we have an obligation to make every penny count and to make sure that we are making the most for the very limited resources we have. >> let's talk about the issues facing san francisco. what do you feel are the biggest issues facing the city right now? supervisor campos: clearly the budget and the economy is a huge issue. it has to be a priority for everyone. we are still going through a very tough economic time. we are still not where we need
to be in terms of job creation and economic development. i think we are very lucky we live in san francisco because it is a very animated place. -- innovative place. government has to work not only with the business community, but with community groups to see how we can create economic development that works for every san franciscan. i think that remains a big issue. and balancing the budget will be a priority. has to be a priority. we will do that. we have done that time and time again. public safety is also something we are very interested in. it has to be a priority, because if we do not have public safety, nothing else works. one of the things we are focusing on is trying to focus on how policing works in san francisco.
i used to be a member of the police commission, and i learned that the most effective community policing is the policing where you have the police and the community working together. it is important to have police officers on the street and have the police presence. at the same time, there has to be a connection within the police and the community. so, that requires -- also we have a focus on violence prevention. in the mission, we are focused on gang activity. we have to balance the very important work of the police would be very important violence prevention work -- with the very importance violence prevention work we're doing on the ground. so, public safety is something we will keep pushing on. we are trying to create a definition of community policing the recognizes that policing
should change depending on the neighborhood, but also have key components throughout the city. we talk about community policing without no -- knowing what it means. another challenge is transportation. as the city, you are defined by how well your public transportation works or how well it does not work. even though we have had improvements in muni, i think we have to do a lot better. and i think there are issues in terms of the services that are provided, the reliability of the system. i think the ridership is rightly frustrated they have been asked to pay more for less. i do not think that is right. we have focused on the operational and management fees. we tried to make public transportation acceptable to people.
i have worked with the other supervisors to provide -- other supervisors supervisor mirkarimi and mayor lee. this allows us to make an investment in public education, but also a long-term investment in public transportation, because as young people from an early age to use the system, the public transportation system, they are going to be committed to public transportation for years to come. >> do you feel additional issues that are facing your district -- that there are additional issues that are facing your district that are unique to your district that you have not mentioned? supervisor campos: there are issues that come up, whether you're talking about the mission, bernal heights, portola. one of the issues we have worked on in bernal heights is the issue of protecting a mural
around the public library, which is an issue that raise a lot of other things. it led to a larger discussion in terms of who we are as a community. some people wanted to preserve the mural. others wanted to get rid of the mural. and we believe in a dialogue. so we brought together in mediation everyone so we could come to an understanding of what our common ground was and to see if we could agree on certain basic things, and we were able to come up with a solution that makes sense for the entire community. in a sense, it reflected larger issues that are impacting the city as a whole. so, there are issues like that that would require a knowledge of the neighborhood, and knowledge of what is happening on the ground, and knowing the difference is of how all bernal
heights may look at an issue vis a vis the mission or portola. as a supervisor, i do have to be able to balance managing citywide issues, which is very important, but at the same time, focusing on the specific needs of your neighborhood. that is really important to us. one of the things we need to prioritize is that making sure we focus on the nuts and bolts of government. a lot of the calls we get involved fixing alights, replacing a pothole. i think it is really important to make sure we get those things right and we try to work very closely with the city agency to make sure government is responsive. if we do not do those things right, those little things, which are big things in life of a neighborhood. >> how you reconcile the needs
of your district with the needs of the city? supervisor campos: i think it is possible to do that. even though we have these great districtwide elections, i think district election still allow you to deal with larger issues. we feel that we certainly have demonstrated that as a board. individual supervisors have demonstrated that. one of the pieces of legislation we worked on last year that we are very proud of is the health services master plan, which is legislation that for the first time has a city like san francisco thinking about the health needs of the city of seoul. -- cities as all whole. it is good for us to know what the health care needs of the
city are going to be in the next couple of years or long term. so, making sure those who do planning and other things, that we think strategically about the need citywide and also neighborhood by neighborhood. and we were able to do that and pass that legislation as a district-elected supervisors, even though this is legislation that impacts the entire city in the future of health care in san francisco for many years to come. i think it is possible to do both. it is definitely possible. >> let's talk about budgets. the city is faced with tough budget decisions. including where to make cuts and whether or not to increase taxes. how will he make these tough choices -- will you make these tough choices? supervisor campos: the budget is the most important policy document that the city can pass. it reflects the priorities of
city government. i believe we have to be creative in how we look at the issue of the budget. it is important for me that certain things happen. i think that public safety has to be a priority in the budget, the public safety cannot be compromised to save a few dollars. but i think the public safety goes beyond funding the police department and the fire department, as important as that is. it includes funding violence prevention programs, after- school programs so someone has -- and people have something to do after school, funding our department for recreational opportunities for young people during the summer or after school. if you do not do that, that will have implications on public safety. the safety has to be protected, because if we do not do that, we are creating more problems that
will be even more costly in the long run. i think that we have to think about it in a very strategic way. i think it is important to protect the safety net. i think we have to find efficiencies in terms of where we can do things better. i think the issue of overtime is something we have to continue to monitor and make sure we reduce overtime costs as much as possible. but i also believe that there is only so much that you can cut in terms of balancing this budget. that you have to think of creative ways, innovative ways to inject revenue into the system. and i think we need to think about options, and is a conversation we need to have with all of the stakeholders. we've been cutting and cutting and cutting for the last few years. i always say, you know, it has gotten to a point where we have cut the fat, cut the muscle, and
we're now putting the bomb. how deep can you go? -- and were now cutting at the bone. we are not going to cut our way out of this budget challenge. we are also not going to tax our way out of it either. there has to be a balanced approach that recognizes you have to do more with what you have and to have to inject revenue into the system. >> you mentioned public safety as a key issue. let's talk about that and the issue of crime in your district. what has happened with the issue of crime? supervisor campos: we have been lucky that over the last couple of years we have seen crime go down in the city. in march, we have seen a number of shootings in the mission especially. which are very alarming. we have an increase in gang
activity in that neighborhood. i think we have to be very proactive about this. that means we have to increase police resources so people understand we're not going to tolerate violent crime. there is no excuse for someone shooting someone else. at the same time, we also have to think about long-term, with our strategy for preventing some of this crime. when it comes to gang activity, there are things you can do on the ground to change the lives of some of these gang people, those who do want to make a better life for themselves. i think for some of them, if you give them opportunities, they can really turn their lives around. i think it is important to engage the community. you have to make sure that you
create an atmosphere where people feel safe, and to feel safe, they have to feel like they are in partnership with the police department. i give a lot of credit to our current chief for reaching out to the community and to merely -- mayor lee. that is where community policing comes in. having officers on the ground, who were not afraid to get out of the patrol car and walked down the street and interact with the merchants, the residents. having that visibility is important. but there are other strategies. as a former police commissioner, i realize that something as basic as the lighting in the street can make a difference. doing that is something we have to do. public safety transcends what
happens to individual neighborhoods on the ground. you ought to focus on muni. people have to feel safe on our buses. you have to have strategies around that. it is a complicated issue. it is something we have to focus on. if public safety does not work, nothing else works. >> let's talk about transportation and muni. is there enough new need service? supervisor campos: one of the things we did last year, and i was very proud to push for that, was to restore some of the service that -- service cuts that were made. new emitted & service cut across the board -- muni made a 10% service cut across the board, which was very significant. here we are. we are paying more and we are getting less. so we worked with the county
transportation authority to help restore at least half of those spots, so about 6% was restored. that is not enough. we need to do more. we need to do more to ensure the system is as reliable as possible. i do think we have to focus on best practices and how the agency is managed. it is an $800 million operation, and one of the things we started last year is be called for a management audit. the management audit looks at how the agency is being run, whether or not it is following best practices. it is bringing common sense into the operations in the city agency, and muni actually has not had a management audit in almost 15 years. that is a long time for an operation of $800 million to go without a management audit.
we're now going to the second phase of the audits, which is going to come out very shortly because we do want to look the best practices. i think we also need to look at our investment in the system. part of the problem is a lack of reliability in what we have, whether it is our bosses, what happens -- buses, what happens at some of the stations, the repair areas. there is a sense we are not investing enough capital into the system, which is why, you know, we have trains on the rail. it is important to make the investment. san francisco should have the best public transportation system in the world. and we don't right now. we have the choice of making it better and that will continue to be a big priority for us. >> we are almost out of time,
but are there any other issues you would like to talk about during your term as a supervisor? supervisor campos: we are introducing a charter amendment, because one of the things we have seen is our trash collection contract has not been re-bid for almost 80 years, and i not think that is the best practice. the company that currently does it does a really good job, but there is nothing wrong with injecting competition. we want to make sure the ratepayer in san francisco does the best deal possible, the best service possible, and competition allows us to return that. >> thank you, for joining us today. we've been talking to supervisor of david campos of district 9. watch for the next episode when we will be back.